OK, I'll admit it: I have a serious girl crush on Miss Juliette Lewis. Sure, I'd always admired her acting chops and idiosyncratic sense of style (remember those cornrows at the Oscars?). But it wasn't until she came out as a singer with the release of Like a Bolt of Lightningin 2004 that I fell head-over-heels in lurv with the brazen beauty, who sings like her life depends on it and stalks the stage like a banshee in heat (she really does Move Like Jagger, if Jagger was a bikini- and headdress-wearing, Oscar nominated, Twitter loving Scientologist). The woman is id and ego in one scrawny, sexy, don't-give-a-damn package that inspires the rest of us (e.g., me) to just go for it, already—and she rocks a mean latex legging. I mean, really, what's not to love?
Say the words "yoga retreat" and most people immediately conjure up images of Costa Rica or Maya Tulum, the latest hotspot among the fashion cognoscenti. Few probably think Atlanta, Georgia.
Fools be them. For just 90 minutes North of the ATL, nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, lies the historic gold-rush town of Dahlonega, outside of which you'll find the exceptionally picturesque and extremely laid back Dahlonega Spa Resort, which boasts some of the prettiest scenery—and best yoga classes—around. Part of R&R Pure Vida Resorts, which also has properties in…wait for it…Costa Rica and Maya Tulum, Dahlonega is a whole lot less intimidating for moderate-level yoga lovers such as myself—and it's a whole lot easier to get to from New York City.
A recent five-day trip went something like this: Wake up in one of the resort's upscale-rustic cabins and toddle up to the main house for a delicious breakfast (omelets, French toast, yogurt/granola/fruit parfaits), served on the wraparound porch overlooking the 72-acre property's expansive front lawn. Follow with a meditative stroll in the Walking Labyrinth and a yoga class led by one of several top-notch instructors (with a special shout out to Sandy Osieja and Chris Sartain), some late morning lounging (outdoor Jacuzzi, anyone?), another delicious meal at lunch and an afternoon of hiking or kayaking on the nearby Chestatee River—or just lying around doing nothing at all. Then it was on to the spa for a daily massage (or wrap or scrub or facial), another yoga class if the mood struck, and a yummy dinner (including some of the tastiest free range chicken I've ever eaten) finished off with homemade ice cream for dessert. It was, in other words, healthy and active without beating the deprivation-is-good-for-you drum (and while I was chuffed to see wine on the menu, it all came from local vintners, whose offerings aren't quite in line with the rest of the spa's high-quality fixins).
But that was a minor quibble in an otherwise spectacular getaway—and one look at the rolling meadows and Blue Ridge Mountains rising mistily in the distance, and you'll agree that "spectacular" is not hyperbole but a plain statement of fact. Oh, and the local chocolate was pretty spectacular, too (I'm looking at you, Fudge Factory). Because woman cannot live on asanas alone.
The Label:Haus Alkire Based In: New York City Designed By: Husband-and-wife team Julie Haus and Jason Alkire. She designs the clothes, he designs the prints, though it's a true team effort. "We are together nearly every moment of the day and night," the duo told TFI. "Thus, when creativity hits one of us the other is within shouting distance. We truly collaborate on each garment. Julie is the detail and construction perfectionist. Jason is the color, print and texture leader. But we swap roles constantly." Prior to joining forces in 2010, Haus had a namesake handbag and ready-to-wear collection and Alkire was an advertising exec/photographer/creative director at the Time Warner luxury magazine, Spoon (where his wife, who studied journalism at the University of Houston, was editor-in-chief before making the switch to fashion). "We wanted to put our two passions—fine art and fashion design—into one designer collection," said Alkire. "We really feel we are exploring how to merge a painting or other forms of fine art into something that's emotional and all-the-while wearable." In February 2012, the designing duo's unique brand of wearable art nabbed them both the Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation prize and a spot on the W Hotel Fashion Next roster at The Box. Looks Like: Dreamy and evocative digital prints give flight to draped dresses, fitted skirts and textured jackets, which are toughened up by razor-sharp trousers and boxy fur vests. "For autumn/winter 2012, we started with Luo Jie paintings and included an ode to the movie The Belle Starr Story," explained Haus. "But we don't literally translate our inspiration to garments—subtlety is key." Subtle being an apt way to describe this forward-thinking collection, which walks the very fine line between edgy and elegant. "The interior of the garment is as carefully constructed as the exterior, and most of the garments are partly constructed by hand," said Haus. And all of it's made in Manhattan. Next up: a possible expansion into handbags and shoes, and a collaboration with W Hotels worldwide through the Fashion Next program. Sold At: Haus Alkire retails for $1,000 to $3,000 and is carried at their store on Broome Street in Soho. The fall 2012 collection will be available at Louis Boston and the Designer Boutique on Shopbop beginning in August.
I've been obsessed with Pears soap pretty much forever. Sure, I've cheated now and again, having hotel bathroom assignations with Bliss Lemon + Sage Body Bar and a short-lived fling with L'Occitane's Shea Butter Verbena. But I always come back to Pears, drawn by its aroma (a soothing blend of thyme and rosemary meant to recall an English garden), its warm amber color, pleasant heft in the hand (heightened by the bar's distinctive oval shape), and gentle glycerin formula, which cleans without drying the skin. Even the much-ballyhooed changes a few years back—in which the 200-year old formula was altered, resulting in a slightly stronger scent—did nothing to diminish my ardor. It is, as far as I'm concerned, the perfect shower companion (shhh, don't tell my husband).
The Label:Erin Barr Based In: New York Designed By: Wisconsin native Erin Barr, who began her career as a hair and makeup artist before studying fashion at London's Central Saint Martins and Parsons. She went on to work at Alexander Wang and Cushnie Et Ochs; spring 2012 marked the debut of Barr's own namesake label. "I think doing hair and makeup really helped me to see the whole picture from head-to-toe. But fashion design allows me to be creative from head-to-toe," Barr told TFI of her career switch. "I love so many forms of creative expression, and with fashion design you get a bit of everything. You do the research and get inspired, then go into 2D sketching, and the outcome is three-dimensional, which is so rewarding to see. And even more rewarding is when it all comes together and you have that 'aha' moment!" Looks Like: Dubbed "An American Tomboy in Paris," Barr's debut collection marries minimalist shapes with subtle Western details. "Spring 2012 was about contrasting that laid-back ease in American dressing alongside the classic, chic sexiness of the French," said the willowy blonde of her freshman outing. "This was such an important collection in that it not only launched the brand, but it set the tone for it as well." In practical terms, Barr's girl wears her muse lightly, whether it's an ingeniously seamed white button-down, a sexy-sleek silk shell, a notched-waist black leather pencil skirt or a pair of perfectly cut cigarette pants. "Fall 2012 pushed the idea of this girl farther," added Barr. "The inspiration behind the collection was the idea of this angel. She has fallen to the Earth and is stuck in purgatory on the Boardwalk. There was a lot of playing with hard vs. soft, dark vs. light, girlie vs. tomboy." Come September, the designer will be bringing her girlie tomboy to the catwalk with her first-ever New York Fashion Week show. Sold At: The Erin Barr collection ranges from $138 to $1,595 at stores such as ChezElle in Charlotte, Be-Jewel in Houston and Le Privee in Jakarta, Indonesia.
From host Seth Meyers' OTT jokes to the sweet acceptance speech by winners Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen to celebrity presenters John Waters and the Jessicas (Paré and Chastain), see what went down at this year's CFDA Awards.
Who among us hasn't suffered from a broken heart? Whether the result of a relationship gone wrong, a troubling family situation or one of the other gazillion slings and arrows that life shoots our way, we've all experienced some sort of heartbreak and hardship. I choose to honor mine by wearing Parisian jeweler Tobias Wistisen's Broken Heart pendant, which I found at the terrific West Village boutique, Hotoveli. Made of cast silver with bronze veins, the heart—roughly the size of an aspirin and literally broken in two—is stitched together with thin leather cord, its scratched and hammered surface representing the blows every ticker endures before emerging on the other side, stronger and more resilient.
The Label: Christine Alcalay Based In: New York City Designed By: Christine Alcalay, a Vietnam-born, NYC-bred, Parsons-trained designer who interned at Christian Lacroix in Paris before returning to New York to open her boutique, KIWI, in 2002, which featured her eponymous made-to-measure clothing. Alcalay broadened her reach by launching her namesake ready-to-wear collection in 2010. "The idea was to design and create a collection for the woman who searches for elegance," Alcalay told The Fashion Informer. "Coming from a family of factory workers in the Garment District in New York, I wanted to support and give back to the industry that raised me. The clothes are 100 percent designed, sourced and made in NYC. With eight years designing made-to-measure in my Brooklyn boutique, I wanted to create a ready-to-wear collection with the classically honed ideas and proven styles that had been developed for many years working with customers one on one." Looks Like: Modern, ladylike pieces inspired by Egyptian, Greek, Irish and Chinese goddesses of love (spring 2012) and Edward Hopper paintings/American beauties from Zelda Fitzgerald to flappers to Gibson Girls (fall 2012). Think: sophisticated long sleeved dresses, patterned clutch coats, paisley tops, sensual draped blouses and pencil skirts in rich shades of mustard, burgundy, navy and green. "Elegance, like style, is not purely about clothing," says Alcalay, who counts Rose Byrne among her clients. "It is about the way people carry themselves. Elegance rings clear with posture, the way a person walks, the way they look in your eyes. It is the essence of who a person is. My focus when designing the collection is to create clothing that has these qualities. It is in the detail, drape and craftsmanship of the garments that resonate. It is the woman who wears it that gives it life. I draw from images of film, music, art, women’s complex roles in our society, and ideals of American vs. global beauty when designing the collection. My clothes are as much about how you feel when you wear them as what they look like." And what they look like is drop dead gorgeous. Sold At: The Christine Alcalay collection retails from $297 to $1080 at can be found at Cut on the Bias and, beginning in August, on ChristineAlcalay.com.
The Label: 80%20 Based In: Midtown Manhattan Designed By: Ce Ce Chin, who launched the line in 2005 after stints at Michael Kors and Calvin Klein. "I was dating skateboarders and sneaker collector guys around that time," recalls Chin. "There was such a frenzy around sneaker design for men, yet I felt there was a lack of cool sneakers for the ladies. I noticed I was only wearing 20 percent of my shoes (and clothes) about 80 percent of the time. Really I owned only a few key favorites that were in constant rotation, and there weren't a lot of cool footwear options out there. Where was that Goldilocks shoe that I could pound the pavement in, and still made me feel cute? Since I couldn't find it, I decided to make it myself." The original 80%20 collection - comprised of hand-painted, slip-on sneakers - sold out at Steven Alan almost immediately. Looks Like: Fun and effortlessly cool, Chin's offerings have grown to include peep-toe platform booties covered in a Polynesian print, cork platforms with tribal-inspired web or raffia straps, go-with-everything cowboy-meets-wingtip booties and open toe loafers in soft nappa leather, designed to show off a pretty pedicure. But her most clever innovation is the Original Hidden Wedge, which adds three inches of interior height to boots that appear to be flat, allowing the wearer to stand tall(er) while discreetly elongating the leg. "It's kind of like the padded bra of footwear!" says Chin, who name-checks Zooey Deschanel's character on The New Girl her ideal customer: "feminine and quirky, fun and witty. And aspirational - she's got big dreams for her life and she's going after them." Kind of like a certain footwear designer I know… Sold At: 80%20 shoes retail from $100-$200 at boutiques worldwide, including American Rag, Revolver, Atrium, Shoe Market, Ladybird, Blinc, Joan Shepp, ASOS and online at 80%20.
Looking for a unique gift for the guy in your life but coming up empty? Your search ends here. Me&Ro has partnered with Mariska Hargitay's Joyful Heart Foundation to create this men's bracelet, which features the word "Fearlessness" engraved on a sleek silver tube threaded through a natural leather cord. The sentiment pays homage to the Joyful Heart Foundation's belief that we all play a role in ending violence against women and children - and serves as an inspirational reminder to approach life with compassion and to stay strong in the face of adversity. Equally inspirational: one hundred percent of the net proceeds from the sale of the Fearlessness bracelet benefits the Joyful Heart Foundation.